On a recent trip to Scotland (my second visit) I rented a car (first time driving on the left) and white-knuckled my way around Perthshire and the lower Highlands for a few days. My first stop (only 20 minutes from the rental agency at the Edinburgh airport) was the small town of Linlithgow for lunch. Perhaps you have never heard of Linlithgow before? Well, you may have heard of Mary, Queen of Scots, who was born in Linlithgow Palace in 1542 (the palace was built in the 15th century, rarely used after 1603, and gutted by fire in 1746. But the walls still stand).
The Champany Inn consists of a 16-room inn, the main restaurant in a pyramid-shaped building, the bar, the Chop and Ale House in the long building, and a wine shop. Some of the buildings date back to the 16th century. The restaurant and inn are younger, having opened about 30 years ago, but they feel older than they are because of the classic country inn decor.
The Champany Inn is a steakhouse tried-and-true. Co-owner Clive Davidson (he runs the restaurant with his wife Anne) selects Aberdeen Angus beef and ages the carcasses for three weeks before their in-house butcher hand-cuts the steaks. Mr. Davidson even designed his own charcoal grill, adding a smoker to smoke beef, salmon, and cod (all starters on the menu). Cuts offered on the menu include sirloin (aka strip loin or New York), ribeye, porterhouse, t-bone, bone-in fillet, Chateaubriand (for two), and prime rib (for two). As you can see by the menu below, there are other options besides steak.
The Champany Inn offers a two-course set lunch Mon-Fri for £25.50 and a three-course set dinner Mon-Fri for £42.50. On my visit I opted for the set lunch, which I often seek out when traveling in Europe because most restaurants have it (in some countries, like Spain, they must offer it by law) so you can eat very well in fine restaurants for a fraction of the cost of dinner. However, I have some tips for doing so.
Le Continental’s Set Menu (Prix Fixe) Tips
- Try to look up a sample set menu online to get an idea of the prices and options (or walk by the restaurant – most have the menu on display in front). Some restaurants offer a two-course set menu of starter and entrée OR entrée and dessert, while some offer a choice of either a two-course meal or a three-course meal.
- Look at the dessert menu before you decide. Sometimes you may not be hungry after the entrée if it’s large (often the case in most restaurants in Spain and the UK), or the dessert offered isn’t that special (such as ice cream or sorbet). But if you are in Scotland and see sticky toffee pudding on the dessert menu, get it!
- Only order the set meal if you really want the dishes offered. Look at the regular à la carte menu, and if something there looks like a must-try, such as a famous house specialty, don’t pass it up just to save a few dollars. Sometimes you can order a starter and an entrée, or just an entrée, for not much more than the set lunch and you may be happier you did when you leave. After all, you traveled a long way, you shouldn’t miss the opportunity. In the case of the Champany Inn, I was going to consider the set lunch only if a steak was offered as an entrée, because it’s a steakhouse (it was, so I ordered from the set lunch).
I was greeted by a gracious lady who I think was Anne Davidson, the co-owner, and seated at a nice table set with a lovely old-fashioned cooper plate, silverware, and linens. The service was superb throughout my luncheon. I was offered two house made breads, a darker bread with nuts and a white bread (both excellent).
For a starter I had the Champany salad of lettuce, chicken livers, and bacon, with a simple vinaigrette dressing. (For some reason I like chicken liver, but not beef liver.)
Of course, I had a steak for my main course. It was a sirloin on the bone, perfectly done, and served with the best, crispy French fries (oh, sorry, chips in the UK), a mushroom cap, and very fresh cherry tomatoes. Usually horseradish is offered with beef in the UK, and I love it with beef (preferably not creamed style).
If you are ever in Scotland, Edinburgh is a must-visit city, and if you go there you should take a train or a taxi out to the Champany Inn for the best steak in Scotland. Actually, I found the restaurant by searching online for “best Aberdeen steak in Scotland”!
Linlithgow, UK EH49 7LU,
Phone: +44 1506 834532
Restaurant open Mon-Fri, lunch 12:30pm-2:00pm, dinner 7:00pm-10:00pm, Sat dinner 7:00pm-10:00pm, closed Sunday, reservations required
Chop & Ale House open Mon-Thu, lunch 12:00pm-2:00pm, dinner 6:30pm-10:00pm, Fri-Sat 12:00pm-10:00pm, Sun 12:30pm-10:00pm, no reservations accepted